A Flimsy Man of Steel

(This is a post that I’m migrating from my previous blog on Blogspot)

It was quite a while ago that I watched Man of Steel.  So that makes this review a little late to the game, but I thought that I would give it a go anyway.

I remember being really excited about the movie.  Christopher Nolan’s name appeared somewhere in the credits right?  How could I not be excited?

The previews did an amazing job of making it look like a film that would take a totally new and fresh look at one of the best known comic book super heroes of all time. It looked down-to-earth.  It looked like it was going to delve into the psychology of Superman like The Dark Knight did with Batman.  It looked like it was going to be tactful and refreshing, a real keeper.

Well, not to spoil it, but it didn’t.

It had a vast mixture of things going on that just didn’t work for me; the first being the Sci-Fi-ness of the original planet that superman was born on, the second was the long introduction of a character who says practically nothing, and the third was the strange decision to have all fighting scenes be absolutely, ridiculously out of character.

The first scenes where Russell Crowe (Clark Kent’s real dad) and Michael Shannon (the evil General Zod) are introduced felt a little heavy, a bit too Sci-Fi for my taste.  Not that I don’t like Sci-Fi, but it just didn’t seem like it fit very well with the rest of the film. This is probably because I came expecting an almost singular focus on Clark Kent as a character.  The film spent too much time discussing the follies of the evolutionary, and environmental choices they made on Krypton and establishing the villain as a really angry dude.

If I had done the film I would have left all of that stuff out about Krypton and his real dad and stuff.  I would have started the film focusing on Clark, and then let the audience experience with the protagonist the discovery of his powers and his internal struggle to find an identity instead of showing us all the other main characters, confirming that Clark is, in fact invincible, and then attempting to humanize him throughout the rest of the film.  It wouldn’t have stretched the imagination too far for Clark to find the holographic version of his dad’s consciousness in a spaceship buried under the snow, and it would have had more impact to find out then that the crazy, angry antagonist was coming to get him.

But I didn’t make the movie, so I guess that makes my opinion on how it should have been done less than important.

They spent a good deal of time in the movie watching Clark Kent wander the planet in search of who he is. Or maybe, perhaps he was just searching for the holographic conscience of his dead father? Or a fancy suit to wear?  Anyway, he found all of those things, but mostly we just watched him walk around in almost near silence doing good deeds and saving people as he went along.  This was probably the best part of the film.  We got to see a little bit of how he decided that he wanted to be a hero.  This was a central question in the film, would the world be ready to accept him as a hero, or would they reject him as a freak?

Turns out, no surprise, that the government feared him, but people (represented by Lois Lane) would accept him.  With that internal struggle over it was on to the fighting!

The fighting was something else entirely, if it wasn’t for the fighting I would say that it was a pretty good movie, one thumb up even.  Sure, the story was predictable.  Sure, it wasn’t all that it was hyped to be, but I would have walked out of the theater thinking “that was alright”.   But the main reason that I can’t give it that rating is not for the character development or the Sci-Fi-ness, those were some of the reasons why the story didn’t develop right, but what really destroyed the staying power of the movie was the fighting.

There were probably a number of ways that they could have approached filming the fight scenes.  Superman has super speed, so that poses a bit of a problem making super speed believable in this film that has devoted so much time in attempting to make Superman believable.  But instead of trying to make the fighting believable they didn’t even try at all.  They went the opposite direction, they made it so unbelievable that it was comical.

It was jarring.  It was like watching an hour and half of moderately well made superhero drama and then when I got to the final fight scenes it was like I stepped out of the superhero drama straight into a computer generated, Superman version of Dragon Ball Z.  It was like a trip straight back to the late 90’s.  It was weird.  So the tagline that should have been used for the movie was “The Man of Steel, Superman meets Dragon Ball Z.  Watch out Goku!” (For those unfamiliar with Dragon Ball Z here is a link, skip to about 2:00 in,  you’ll get a taste.)

It was such a jarring transition to go from a film attempting to be down-to-earth, realistic; and then suddenly the characters start zipping around and punching each other through buildings in the most awkward way conceivable.

On a side note, the last fight scene felt really long, so long it was boring long.

So if I had to rate the movie on a scale of “Buy the Collectors edition Blu-Ray version” to “Wait till it’s in the $5 bin at Walmart” I would have to go with the latter.

In summary the film was ok.  The character development was weak, the previews had more emotional impact than the film did, and the fighting was beyond ridiculous.  All of that being said, it was a pretty clean movie, and if I were to find it sitting in the bottom of the $5 bin someday I might even consider buying it, if it happened to be the only movie in the bin worth buying and I only had $5 to spend.  Or I might just buy some candy for the same price and watch this instead for free because it’s hilarious.

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